Today, Advocate Health Care said it is “investigating” a former Chicago archdiocesan priest accused of molesting at least four boys.
We welcome this news and urge Advocate to suspend Russell Romano while this investigation is happening. We also urge Advocate to seek out and listen to Romano’s victims as part of their investigation. Finally, we beg Advocate to begin, right now, reaching out to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by Romano while he has been on Advocate’s payroll or property.
The notion that his job doesn’t involve kids just doesn’t wash with us. Child predators are notoriously adept at using any title or position to gain access to vulnerable kids. Romano is a counselor. He works for a respected agency. He could easily use those two facts to begin ingratiating himself with a single mom who has an addicted teen.
There’s a reason we jail child molesters. It’s because anything short of jail doesn’t really protect kids. The precise job responsibilities of a child predator matter less. His access to kids matters more.
It wasn’t in his job description as a priest to assault children. But he did. So it doesn’t matter much what his exact job description is at Advocate.
We hope every person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes by Chicago clerics comes forward. Staying silent helps no one. Speaking up helps expose and deter wrongdoing. It also protects kids and brings healing.
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